In its opening moments, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM proudly announces there will be “something for everyone.” Walnut Street Theatre’s season-opening production, directed by and starring the tireless and tiresome Frank Ferrante, seems intent to deliver on this promise. But what’s left when a work of art tries to be all things to all people? Here, you realize that the cotton-candy–colored sets and costumes (by Robert Andrew Kovach and Mary Folino, respectively) actually serve as a metaphor for the entire affair: it all looks tasty but quickly leads to a stomachache.
The production further suffers from general miscasting and a level of mugging so high it deserves three-to-five in the state penitentiary. Still, two of Philly’s best resident actors turn in genuinely winning comic performances. Scott Greer excels as Hysterium, the tightly wound “slave-in-chief”; his performance of “I’m Calm,” the score’s best number, is a master class in understatement. And as Domina, the forceful mistress of the house of Senex, Mary Martello lives up to her character’s name. Whenever she’s onstage, she dominates.
[Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia]; September 5-October 22, 2017; walnutstreettheatre.org